One of our goals of the trip was to climb Bluff Knoll in the Sitrling National Park. At 1073 meters (~3200Ft) it is the hightest point in Western Australia. The Stirlings rise up like islands on a sea of green farm land. They remind me of the Sky Islands in the desert around Tucson.
We ate breakfast and got going around 9am. It is about 100k or 1 hour drive throught the cattle and sheep farms to the Stirlings. The terrain turns into mallee scrub once your enter the park. We signed in at the turnoff and headed up to the parking lot at the base of the mountain. The lot was about 1/2 full and we noticed right off the amount of families preparing for the climb. We saw a lot more young children on the trail than we would on a similar trail in the US. Surprising.
We grabbed our packs and headed out. The trail is 6.2 km rt (~4 miles) and 634 meters up (~2000ft). It starts out on a paved trail for a short while and then starts to climb. The trail is in great condition but it had a lot more stairs than I expected. I was soon groaning at the stairclimb. The terrain was scrubby mix of eucalyptus, acacias and other plants just about at shoulder height.
As we climbed the views got better and better. The parking lot looked like a small dot. We were so fortunate to have great weather. A bit warm but no mist or rain. The bluff is frequently covered in low clouds or very windy. It did get windy as we got to the first saddle. It whipped across the low spot almost blowing off our hats. The trail curved around to the other side of the peak and we climbed the last 1/2 mile to the top. It was crowded with families huddling in the shrubs to avoid the wind. But everyone was happy - eating their lunches and snapping photos.
The trip down was fast but we got a chance to talk with some of the other hikers. Everyone is surprised that we are from the US. Americans rarely visit Western Australia. We explain that we've come for the wildflowers and discuss the drought. We're always getting asked how we find Australia and we always answer - We love it!